The term ‘inclusive education’ is nowadays broadly conceptualised to include students from different
backgrounds and with languages other than English, as well as students with disabilities (Ashman, 2002). However, for the purposes of this study, ‘the term inclusion is defined as partial or full inclusion in regular classrooms, with the level of inclusion being dependent upon the severity and number of disabilities and the level of additional support available for that student’ (Fuchs & Fuchs, 1994, cited in McNally, Cole & Waugh, 2001, p. 258). A successful system of inclusion requires that the community believe in the competence of the education system to meet the needs of all students. Parents especially have to have confidence in the capacity of the schools tounderstand and effectively educate their children with special needs. Given the current policies of inclusive education, children with ...view middle of the document...
As the trend towards inclusion grows, one of the chief concerns of parents is the protection of support services for their child. Daniel and King (1997) found that parents were more concerned about the degree to which their child’s individual education plan (IEP) actually addressed the needs of their child when the child was being educated in an inclusive setting, as opposed to a segregated setting. It may be difficult for parents to find schools with personnel who are sufficiently knowledgeable about inclusive educational goals in order to provide appropriate services to their child (Grove & Fisher, 1999). Grove and Fisher (1999) also found that the parents in their study viewed staff as lacking in knowledge about their child, and they found it difficult to access teachers or other staff willing both to provide them with information and receive information from them. Even when such a person is available, conflict can arise from divergent perspectives about the child’s needs (Lake & Billingsley, 2000).
A recent Australian study by Gilmore, Campbell and Cuskelly (2003) examined the attitudes of experienced teachers and the community to the inclusion of students with Down syndrome in regular classroom settings. They found that parents recognised the educational, social and emotional benefits of inclusive education for both studentswith disabilities and their non-disabled classmates. Despite these findings, the authors stated that the majority of parents felt that the needs of students with disabilities could bebetter met in special education classes. The authors found that those in the community who supported inclusive practices had fewer negative stereotypes about Down syndrome. Palmer, Borthwick-Duffy, Widaman and Best (1998) found that parents of children with severe disabilities, who met the following criteria, had positive attitudes towards inclusion. First, the parents saw socialisation as an important educational goal. Second, their child had relatively higher cognitive skills, had fewer behavioural problems and had fewer characteristics requiring special education. Finally, their child had had more time in regular classrooms. Using data from the Palmer et al. (1998) .